Happy Food Day, Canada (here’s a Peach & Blackberry Crisp)


It really sounds like the very best day of the year, doesn’t it? In 2003 Anita Stewart (whom I was lucky enough to finally meet in person a few weeks ago in Calgary) launched Food Day -a national celebration of restaurateurs, suppliers, growers, farmers and eaters- to be held the first Saturday of the first weekend in August. On this day each summer Canadians are encouraged to eat whatever is local and in season, and to share it online. Click here to share your own Food Day stories. (Even if it’s just to report what you had for dinner.) I love that Food Day not only allows us to share ideas and share what grows in each region of the country, it helps us Canadians define our food culture – and exactly what Canadian cuisine is, anyway.

Being out in Tofino, on the furthestmost west end of Canada, we celebrated the day with some crab plucked from the waters outside our window, fished from kayaks, and wee grilled cheese sandwiches made with BC aged white cheddar and leaves of fresh basil from a plant bought at the Tofino Saturday morning market, on thinly sliced baguette baked at Jupiter. (Breakfast was bagels from the Six Hundred Degree Bakery – a naturally leavened, wood fired bakery here in Tofino – some of them turned into bageleggs.)

For dinner we ate salads made with a head of red leaf lettuce snipped from the side yard of our ninetysomething next-door neighbours, who maintain an impressive garden filled with tomatoes, beans, beets, beautiful heads of lettuce and rows of chard (I have chard envy) beside their sundial. In it, roasted beets and crumbled feta from Nanaimo.

For dessert, I ran over to Beaches grocery and picked up a bag of BC peaches and a paper tub of tiny blackberries that just arrived from Nanoose Bay. We debated what to do with them – oh the pressure! – crisp? buckle? pie? I’ve made two cobblers this summer already. As I dithered (and dished up dinner) it got late, and so a quick crumble won. And really, as I thickly sliced and piled the unpeeled peaches and berries into shallow ramekins (bigger surface area) alone – we eat the fruit straight out of hand and find it plenty sweet enough – why add sugar and cornstarch to bake it? – and topped it with the rubble of flour, sugar, oats and butter I had hastily mashed together with a fork and my fingers, I knew it was exactly what I wanted it to be.

As usual, I didn’t follow a recipe. I sliced up the fruit and put it in ramekins as is, and the crumble was equal parts (I used a 1/2 cup measure) flour, sugar and oats – generally I use brown sugar, but we’re out, so I used white and added a tiny dribble of molasses, and it worked fine – with about half as much (about 1/4 cup, although you could go ahead and use more) butter. If I had pecans, I would have thrown some in too. Blend it all together with a fork and scatter over top of the fruit – squeezing as you do to make bigger clumps – and bake it until the juices run out and the topping is golden (for me, it was 40 minutes at 375F). That’s it.

You can’t really underbake a crumble or crisp – you’d eat peaches and blackberries raw, wouldn’t you? You just want to make sure the topping is golden, and thus crisp. There’s a big window so it won’t need babysitting – I pulled one out early, after about 25 minutes, for my sister, who was hopping into the tub and wanted some to take with her. That one was firmer – more like warmed, soft fresh fruit – but still golden on top and no less delicious. The ones that baked longer released more of their juices and the fruit was softer and crumbs darker golden; both more than worthy for a Food Day Canada feast. We topped them with vanilla bean gelato from Chocolate Tofino.

Happy days.


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18 comments on “Happy Food Day, Canada (here’s a Peach & Blackberry Crisp)

  1. Recipe for Delicious
    August 1, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Happy Food Day! I had no idea this existed. Looks like you guys took it seriously! This crumble looks easy and delicious!

  2. Julia
    August 1, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Yum!! As I’m reading this I’m finishing off a bowl of local fruit I bought at our farmer’s market yesterday morning…blueberries, peaches and musk melon (or cantalope, as some call it).

  3. supersu
    August 1, 2010 at 8:34 am

    oh my word! looks delish…am drooling here as i read.

  4. Fiona
    August 1, 2010 at 8:50 am

    If I’d known it was food day yesterday, I’d have tried much harder. Instead I ate fast food and a couple of good fatayers from the Lebanese grocery around the corner. So now that I know, I’m going to make up for it with blueberry perogies from Heritage Bakery, which have been languishing in my freezer, with vanlla frozen yogurt. For breakfast.

    Your posts are making me nostalgic for the big motorcycle trip we took out there last year. Tofino is one of my favourite spots on earth.

  5. Gemma
    August 1, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Didn’t know it was food day, but we did eat creamed new peas and carrots, baby potatoes, beets and beet greens all supplied by the local Hutterites for supper last night.

  6. Erica B.
    August 1, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Food Day is my kind of holiday! Too bad it looks like I missed it. I served up hamburgers and hotdogs for a charity BBQ yesterday while the kids were at Centrefest. I then spent dinner prep time in the garden trying to win the battle against the weeds(and the mosquitoes!). T made the kids breakfast for dinner – pancakes, bacon and eggs.

    Julia – my Mum always called cantalope musk melon, still does sometimes. I don’t recall hearing people use musk melon out here in Alberta. I wonder if it’s a regional thing?

  7. Kris
    August 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    I wsn’t aware of Food Day but coinceidently had a tossed salad and new baby potatoes from my garden (which is a dismal disaster this year because of all the rain we got) and local chicken done on the BBQ.

    My grandfather always called canteloupe musk melon too

  8. Evelyn in Canada
    August 1, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I hadn’t heard of food day either, but we celebrated a birthday with a local prime rib roast, fresh baby potatoes, garden carrots and beets. Your dessert looks better than our store-bought birthday cake, but it was a struggle to keep the birthday a surprise as it was without the added challenge of baking a cake secretly.

  9. I’m like most everyone else, had no idea there was a Food Day! But I did preserve sour cherry sauce and sour cherry jelly from local cherries. Then made duck breast with local duck for the evening meal.

  10. m piebiak
    August 1, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Awesome photos. You inspire me. Might try making the blueberry oatmeal cookies. Thanks for always sharing.

  11. bellini valli
    August 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I celebrated with grilled lamb chops and peach bellini’s. Happy Food Day Canada.We ate a little earlier than 6, but it was 6 somewhere in Canada.

  12. fotographiafoodie
    August 1, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    I love making crisps, especially for my mom – always looking for a new one to make for her!

  13. Vincci
    August 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    What?! I totally didn’t know it was Food Day! B. and I probably had our best camping meal that night though – Chicken, red pepper and mushrooms, marinated in Korean BBQ sauce and roasted on skewers over the fire.

  14. Sherry
    August 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Thanks for the crisp idea and recipe. Made it last night and my husband told me he loved me at least 10 times. It was yummy!

    Also thanks for all the Tofino information and pictures. Really enjoying reading about the area, experiences and the food.

  15. Manon from Ontario
    August 4, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Guess what I’m making for desert tonight? Thanks Julie but I’m making it with Maple sugar, yum yum ;p

    You’re the best!


  16. Helene
    August 4, 2010 at 8:04 am

    I just learn about ‘Happy Food Day Canada’. Wish I was still on Vancouver Island. Love Tofino. It’s such a great place to go on Vacation. I miss the mountains and the sea. Maybe someday we will go back. In the meantime we moved to Ottawa this summer. I had crisp last night too. Yours look delicious.

  17. Vivian
    August 4, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Those are darn cute shallow ramekins! Where did they come from?

  18. Orsachiotta
    August 9, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Wow this looks amazing! I have to try it! Greetings from Hungary!:)

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